When I made the move to Melbourne, Australia, I was inundated with things to do in Australia. I had to make sure I saw Sydney, explored all of Melbourne, went scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, and found as many beaches as humanly possible. Once in Melbourne, it was the locals who turned me on to a road trip along the Great Ocean Road. The name of the road itself was all I needed to rent a car and get on my way.
All I needed to do was hop in my cheap rental and head due west along the southern coast. First stop on the tour was Bells Beach, the premier spot in all of Australia for pro surfing and home to the longest running competition on the planet. Also, the final scene of Point Break, while filmed in Oregon, is actually set at Bells Beach, so I knew this was a must see.
The rest of the drive had absolutely stunning views and it never got old to know that I was looking over the Southern Ocean, and that the next closest land mass was Antartica. There’s nothing like being near places on a map that seem astronomically far away when learning about them in a classroom in the US. Disclaimer: I consider myself to be a very solid driver…no accidents (knock on wood) in my entire time with a license, but navigating a windy road, on the opposite side of the road, was a white knuckle experience.
There are many stops to take in along the way: Apollo Bay, Cape Ottway, and nearly any cliffside overlook. But once you get to Port Cambell, the real attractions come into view: The Twelve Apostles. These are monoliths made of limestone that dot the Souther Ocean by Port Campbell National Park, and they make an unbelievably picturesque shoreline. The erosion in this part of the world is extremely powerful, with all the wind and strong currents coming from Antarctica, leaving only eight of the Apostles still standing today.
The day that I went to visit was one of the windiest days of my life, and seeing people take off on helicopter tours to see the limestone stacks up close was a harrowing experience as an observer let alone a passenger. This is definitely a trip worth doing, a chance to explore a part of the world that may once have seemed far fetched. If you don’t like driving, you can take a tour bus, but that will take away all your freedom…where and when to stop, how long to stay at certain spots, and what music to toss on the radio. So rent a car in Melbourne, drive west for about 250 miles, and take in the sights. Make sure to bring a camera, because there is no shortage of amazing memories to capture.